We salute our alumni working on the front lines or behind the scenes to combat COVID-19 and provide comfort during the pandemic.
We are grateful for their efforts and are proud to highlight the power and impact of the HMS alumni community through the stories below.
In Your Words
Jeffrey D. Edwards, MD '03Personal StatementSubmitted May 4, 2020
As a pediatric intensivist in New York City, I would like to salute all the pediatric and other providers. They are extending themselves, or have been redeployed, to care for patients they usually do not. Across NYC, pediatric residents and fellows have volunteered—or been sent—to adult units. They are caring for adults with COVID-19. At my PICU at Columbia University, we have a sizeable number of adults (we are not used to patients in their 40s and 50s) with COVID-19. They are intubated and even on extracorporeal support. We also have had probably the largest number of critically ill children with COVID-19 in the U.S.—some with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and some with severe non-respiratory illnesses from COVID-19. Everyone is doing his or her part.
Jay Kaplan, AB ’71, MD ’75Poetry SubmissionSubmitted April 20, 2020
Pothole or Portal
The streets of New Orleans
are known for their potholes
ever present varying in shape and depth
often not seen until too late
walking or driving along without a care
you are caught off guard
just how much injury has happened
you’ll discover that with your next move
you are told to stay at home
and think you might be safe
but inside you begin to recognize there are similar difficulties
internal potholes that seem to have been hidden
amidst the busy-ness and speed of everyday life
now temporarily that noise has been silenced
and you are left with the ruts in your road
and given the stress of your isolation they deepen
and become harder to see and avoid
you fall into fear
and then into anger
and then into grief
and then into regret
you’ re not good enough
you ‘re not doing enough
it’s your fault
you chose the wrong path
look to your left
look to your right
are you with people alongside you arm in arm
or do you feel alone
what can be done to transform your potholes into portals?
what I mean by this is
instead of tumbling into hurt
and having to climb out
you pass through
to a new place where you’ve not been before
where your fear becomes your nerve
and your worry becomes your hope
where that which has been holding you back
now urges you on
where the jolt is now two elbows touching
encouraging a connection that is flexible and strong even if momentary
where injury and pain are expected because you care as you do
as you stride on with humility and daring
the road remains the road
you are different
you see the difficulties as challenges
you feel the ground and do not doubt its ability to support you
you accept that with all that you are not you can still inspire
and bring hope and love to those around you
Inside this portal you will not be deterred
Mark G. Lebwohl, MD ’78Personal StatementSubmitted April 21, 2020
When the coronavirus pandemic first broke on the news, we were inundated with patient and physician emails, texts, and phone calls. We have several thousand patients on biologic therapies, many of which were based on work done in our department. All were concerned about the possibility that these treatments would suppress their immune system and make them more susceptible to COVID-19. We reviewed and quickly published data from pivotal trials comparing viral respiratory infections for the biologic treatments for psoriasis and atopic dermatitis to their placebo controls. These became the source of recommendations made by several patients and medical organizations on the management of patients on those medications during the pandemic. That was easy compared to the clinical challenges at Mount Sinai. Despite converting all of my office visits to telemedicine, I had to come to work every day because our 26 residents and large staff were spread out among Mount Sinai’s eight main hospitals, leaving only a skeleton crew for Dermatology. Many of them contracted COVID-19 and fortunately, all are recovering. There is no doubt that the “all hands on deck” call at Mount Sinai saved the lives of many New Yorkers.
Christine A. Loock, MD ’80Personal StatementSubmitted April 27, 2020
My days right now are spent in a virtual [virtuous] world that begins just before the sun comes up. East Coast colleagues begin their daily toils whilst most here are asleep, except the birds and worms and me.
In my role as the Medical Director of RICHER, an outreach Social Pediatrics program, to our Inner City, and my other foot in the BC Children’s Hospital as the Medical Director of our provincial Cleft Palate Craniofacial Program, I have had to learn how to schedule and coordinate meetings on several platforms, keeping our distances, but promoting our social capital. My academic “social contract” with UBC is to provide learning and research opportunities to medical students and other trainees who have a passion for addressing inequities in access and outcomes for children and youth with special needs.
Our RICHER program, described as linking in and linking across, addresses the financial and social inequities to access in the inner-city schools and neighborhoods in our otherwise very wealthy city. This is ground zero for the opiate epidemic, on the heels of homelessness and HIV, and a not so hidden mental health desert. Our hospital-based cleft palate team works with families who experience the added stressors of disability, distance, and discrimination.
Chris O’Donnell, MD ’87, MPH ’94Personal StatementSubmitted April 20, 2020
I am deeply involved in the Veterans Administration as both a clinical chief and a researcher leading a COVID-19 effort in the Veterans Administration Million Veteran Program.